Information on Ohio's Consumer Laws from Attorney Daniel Myers, Myers Law, LLC, not legal advice
Despite what you may have heard in the news, the Ohio Consumer Sales Protection Act (CSPA) is still a powerful consumer protection law in Ohio. The CSPA protects consumers in many everyday transactions—auto repairs, auto purchases, home repairs and remodeling, as well as most other purchases involving goods and services that consumers use for family, household, or personal purposes. However, with all of the negative media and negative lobbying telling us it’s bad to stand up for your rights in court, many consumers do everything they can to avoid speaking with a “trial attorney.” Many unsuccessfully try to resolve these issues on their own without immediately contacting an attorney. Many of these consumers wait until the two-year statute of limitation passes. As a result, attorneys may turn away these consumers when they do reach out for help. However, that two-year limitation is not the Great Wall that you think it is.
There are ways around the two-year time limit. First, if a consumer is ever sued by a supplier for money owed or for breach of contract based on the consumer transaction, the consumer can always bring the all CSPA claims (seeking triple damages, non-economic damages, and attorney fees) in a counterclaim, even well past the two-year time limit. Where a mechanic’s lien is involved in a home repair situation, it is easier to force the supplier’s hand and salvage a consumer’s claims.
Second, in most situations involving home construction and repairs, and other home sale situations, a consumer has the right to cancel the agreement and receive a full refund. The Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) is an Ohio law that allows consumers the right to cancel a contract within 3-days of signing it, getting a full refund in many situations. If the supplier failed to include this 3-day right in the contract or use the proper forms, consumers are entitled to cancel their agreement whenever they wish. Courts have said in these situations that the right to cancel never expired, even many years after the repair work stops. This allows homeowners to bring a claim for a refund or to get out of paying money owed on a contract well after the two-year time limit under the CSPA.
There may be other ways around this time limit in other situations, as well, but these are the two most common exceptions.
Remember these two exceptions before you tell a consumer “you’re too late.” You might be wrong. If consumers come to you after their two-year time frame, before you turn them away, seek out an attorney experienced in consumer law to give you some pointers about salvaging their claims. I will be discussing some of these strategies with other consumer attorneys in a seminar at the 2014 OAJ Convention in Columbus, Ohio on May 8th. Sign up here to attend.